The Associated Press reports that Afghan forces have found the bodies of another 76 Taliban fighters:
The new fatalities bring the death toll to 178 from fighting in the Miana Shien district of Kandahar province since Tuesday, ministry spokesman Zahir Marad said.
"Our forces have collected the bodies of 76 more rebels from the battlefield," he said. Marad said he had not received any reports from Afghan army commanders as to whether the fighting was still continuing.
Two Taliban commanders, Mullah Dadullah and Mullah Brader, are still believed to be surrounded in the mountainous region.
The mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won 62% of the votes defeating ex-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
According to the BBC, Ahmadinejad's win means all the organs of the ian state are now in the hands of conservative hardliners.
Mr Ahmadinejad, 49, who campaigned on a conservative Islamic platform, had surprised observers by beating five other candidates in the first round to reach the run-off.
The election was not without controversy.
First, the U.S. and Britain criticized the election because many reformists, and all women candidates, were barred from running.
Second, there were fresh ballot-rigging allegations in Friday's runoff election. The chairman of Rafsanjani's campaign in Tehran province, accused the basij, a militant volunteer force, and the revolutionary guards of trying to skew the results in Mr Ahmadinejad's favor:
"We know they are ballot rigging," he told the Guardian.
"We are receiving reports that the basij and revolutionary guards are involved in ballot rigging and cheating. There's a probability that ballot boxes in at least two mosques in Tehran will be annulled.
"They have also been making propaganda for Ahmadinejad and that's forbidden. The law states that in the last 24 hours before polls open, you are not allowed to issue publicity for candidates. "
The Los Angeles Times reports that Ahmadinejad has never held an elected office. He has been the appointed mayor of Tehran for just two years. A former Revolutionary Guard and instructor for the pro-government Basiji militia, he talks tough toward 's enemies and promises to reverse what he views as the watering down of the militant politics of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic's founder.
Ahmadinejad's victory doesn't bode well for any improvement in relations between and the West. Ahmadinejad said that better ties with the United States would not be a priority. He doesn't support Western-style democracy and last week said:
We did not have a revolution in order to have democracy.
As iranians go to the polls in today's presidential runoff, the Associated Press
reports that a key issue separating the two candidates is 's stance in talks with the West about 's nuclear program:
Ultraconservative candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the 49-year-old mayor of Tehran, has indicated he will push for a tougher position at the talks if he becomes president.
[. . .]
Ahmadinejad, in comments that drew sharp criticism from the Foreign Ministry, accused 's nuclear negotiators Monday of being weak and bowing to European pressure at the negotiation table.
[. . .]
In contrast, Rafsanjani is widely expected to keep key nuclear negotiators in place and remain open to a compromise with the West if he wins.
I think Iran is determined to develop nuclear weapons no matter which candidate wins this election. For my money the negotiations with European powers are just a stalling tactic, which unfortunately is providing the ians time to accomplish more work towards developing a weapon.
Bloomberg reports that the U.S. Supreme Court bolstered local governments' power to take over private property to make way for economic development such as shopping malls, office parks and sports stadiums.
The court in another 5-4 ruling said government agencies can constitutionally take property in the name of economic development and increased tax receipts, as long as they pay compensation to the owners.
The case is from Connecticut, Kelo v. City of New London, 04-108.
According to the Associated Press, the Supreme Court said local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community:
"The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including - but by no means limited to - new jobs and increased tax revenue," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority.
He was joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.
What was at stake in the Kelo case was the ability of communities to use eminent domain powers to acquire real estate by condemnation and transfer it to private developers to build things like luxury condominiums and shopping areas in choice locations. The plaintiffs in the Kelo case argued that securing land for private developers doesn't qualify as a legitimate public purpose.
Communities are using condemnation more and more. Last week the New London's The Day reported that the Castle Coalition has produced a report documenting 10,000 instances of such “private to private” real estate transfers employing eminent domain in 41 states between 1998 and 2002.
Reuters reports that Afghan forces are closing in on a number of senior Taliban commanders in southwestern Afghanistan:
The commanders included Mullah Dadullah, a member of the Taliban's 10-man leadership council headed by elusive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, and Mullah Brother another commander thought close to Omar, a Defence Ministry spokesman said
"Mullah Brother, Mullah Dadullah, Mullah Abdul Hakim, Mullah Abdul Hanan and Mullah Abdul Basir are in that area," Mohammad Ishaq Paiman said. "The operation is ongoing."
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said it appeared the guerrillas had been building up strength to launch attacks on the main southern city of Kandahar and elsewhere ahead of Afghanistan's September 18 elections.
I guess that answers the questions California Yankee posted here.
The Associated Press reports that more than100 insurgents have been killed in three days of fighting in Southern Afghanistan:
"A total of 102 Taliban have been killed since the fighting started on Tuesday," Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Marad said, 26 more than were reported on Wednesday evening. "These deaths will have a huge impact on the rebels. Many are trying to flee. But we have them surrounded."
[. . .]
Gen. Salim Khan, commander of 400 Afghan policemen who took part in the fighting, said the insurgents had been hit hard.
"Their camps were decimated. Bodies lay everywhere. Heavy machine guns and AK-47s were scattered alongside blankets, kettles and food," he told The Associated Press. "Some of the Taliban were also killed in caves where they were hiding and U.S. helicopters came and pounded them."
American AC-130 gunships, AH-64 Apache helicopters, A-10 attack planes and Harrier jump jets bombarded the rebels and had a "devastating effect on their forces," said another U.S. spokesman, Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara.
According to the Guardian British aircraft also joined the fight:
Harrier jets flew alongside A-10 "tankbuster" aircraft and helicopter gunships which strafed a mountainside area US officials described as a "rebel haven" in Kandahar province late into Tuesday night.
The British planes, equipped with laser-guided bombs, provided air support only, said Lieutenant Gemma Fullman, a British forces spokeswoman. "They did not drop any munitions," she said.
Why would the evil doers provide such a target? Why didn't they just melt away? Are they protecting something?
The Washington Times reports that the Department of Homeland Security has allowed thousands of employers to hire millions of illegal aliens because of a lack of funding, manpower and commitment to solve the problem:
In 2004, ICE [Customs and Immigration Enforcement] issued three notices of intent to seek fines against employers for knowingly hiring illegals -- compared with more than 400 by the now-defunct U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in 1999, Richard M. Stana, director of homeland security and justice issues at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), told the subcommittee.
Carl W. Hampe, the Justice Department's former top legal representative in immigration litigation, said ICE has not actively sought to bring cases or level fines against employers who knowingly hire illegals:
"Despite strong bipartisan support for employer sanctions, no attention is being paid by ICE to workplace enforcement," Mr. Hampe told the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, border security and claims. "Clearly this sends a message that if you can get into the United States, you can find a job."
Mr. Hampe, who negotiated and drafted the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and the Immigration Act of 1990, both of which called for stronger work-site enforcement, described the "low level" of employer sanctions by ICE as "inappropriate," adding that "it must be reversed."
One cannot expect the support necessary to accomplish serious immigration reform when so little effort is being expended towards enforcing the results of previous immigration reform.